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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Monday, October 31, 2005

Gang of 14

When the agreement between the seven squishy Republican Senators and seven "moderate" Democratic senators, the "Gang of 14", temporarily ended the judicial filibuster battle, I was dismayed about the language of the agreement. It said that the democratic members of the gang would forego filibusters except in "extraordinary circumstances." I was dismayed because the deal also said that it was each Senator who could decide for himself what was considered extraordinary. Oh how could the Republicans be such fools! (Much wailing and knashing of teeth.)

Then, back when it passed, not now, I read something that changed my mind. The power is essentially in the hands of the seven Republicans, not the seven Democrats. That is, regardless of what the Democrats say, if five of the seven Democrats filibuster, it is the Republicans that decide whether the bargain was in good faith or not. If they decide that there is nothing extraordinary about the Alito nomination (and there isn't) and any claim that it is extraordinary is disingenuous, then they are released from their pledge not to vote for the "nuclear-constitutional option."

This seems to be coming to pass. So far, both DeWine and Graham have come on record stating that this is no extraordinary circumstance. Assuming all the non-gang-of-14-Republicans are on board, that gives 50 votes for the nuclear-constitutional option, which with Cheney ensures its passage.

Prediction: attempt at filibuster fails when Democrats can't muster 40 votes.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Where is Mr. Carpenter. I have been redeemed!

9:04 PM, October 31, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I posted earlier this May that the gang of 14 agreement was a defeat for democrats because democrats needed 6 out of 7 moderate republicans to find the nominee extreme. That is nearly impossible.

9:14 PM, October 31, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Why the deafening silence from SSC on this new nomination?

To big a mistake? Not big enough?

Not a mistake?

Too much balancing?

Not enough?

Inquiring minds want to know.

10:15 PM, October 31, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

SSC is still hoping for an anti-intellectual populist theocracy (is this a description of heaven?) Miers was the best and possibly last hope for this. Now that Miers is gone, the populist-theocrats can only hold their heads in shame.

7:52 AM, November 01, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Perhaps Miers cn be revived for the next nomination so that he can have renewed hope. However, that WOULD be balancing.

9:00 AM, November 01, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Speaking of the Gang of Fourteen, McCain was on Charlie Rose last night and was being quite supportive of Bush. I didn't watch all of it (can't handle much of Rose) but McCain was being so supportive that Rose was getting angry. What has happened? McCain get religion? Or does he just want people to talk nice about him when he is President?

9:13 AM, November 01, 2005  

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A Small, Fast World

John Fund today discusses the impact of the internet on the Miers nomination. Blogs, internet newspaper sites, and blast emails set in motion an infinite snowball before any spin was allowed to form.

I note that even before the announcement of Alito’s nomination, reactions were available online. Did you know for example, that the nickname “Scalito” is racist? The DNC has also already criticized him for a “Long History Of States Rights, Anti-Civil Rights, And Anti-Immigrant Rulings.” Whoa, he's for States' Rights?

I’ve been a member of the internet community for 10 years now, and it has never looked better. Virtual life is addictive; virtual politics is a scream.


The President has redeemed himself.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

It's morning in America!

8:10 AM, October 31, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

The Democrats will investigate him, demonize him, call him a racist and discuss pubic hairs, but he will be ultimately be confirmed.

That wasn't so hard, was it?

8:33 AM, October 31, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Like I said!

9:06 AM, October 31, 2005  

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Media on Trial.

An interesting twist on a potential jury trial with Scooter Libby would be the questioning of various media types such as Tim Russert. If I were a defense lawyer, I would do my very best to try and make Russert look like a partisan Democrat (which he may be), so his testimony would seem suspect. I would spend lots of time digging up examples of partisanship and question Russert on all of these examples. My goal would be to show that Russert is normally biased to the left and should never be considered "neutral." This kind of questioning would be bad news for any MSM type, and would further be unprecedented because the testimony would be under oath (Russert would have to answer all these questions!)

Too bad Libby didn't call Dan Rather.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Too bad Prince Peter is gone. He would have made a great witness!
Can Canadians claim the Fifth?

9:22 AM, October 31, 2005  

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60 Republicans vs. 2 Democrats

That is how many Republicans vs. Democrats Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has indicted in Chicago. It seems lopsided to me. Fitzgerald is supposed to be a "straight shooter." I wonder if Ronnie Earle has a better track record?

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Would he have been selected if his record was 60 Dems. vs. 2 Republicrats?

6:27 PM, October 31, 2005  

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How Conservative Is Bush?

I have always been convinced that Bush can get a conservative Supreme Court through the Senate if he wants one. It’s unclear if that’s what he wants. He has chosen genuine conservatives for the appelate courts. Roberts most likely will turn out well, but who really knows? He was a stealth candidate as well. We also know that Bush, in 1990, said that the country wasn’t ready for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. I guess we’ll see tomorrow. Bets?

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I think you will see a white male conservative like McConnel or Luttig.

10:54 PM, October 30, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Or Alito.

8:09 AM, October 31, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

But you have to ask, what was wrong with Janice Rogers Brown? Too blunt? It would have been harder to criticize a black woman, though I do believe the Democrats hide their racism under a very thin veneer of rhetoric.

10:10 AM, November 01, 2005  

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Why Scooter did it?

The press loves this story because you can endlessly speculate... and you can speculate about bad things for Bush and conservatives...and you can mix in the war and all the other things the press is against. Nevertheless, there is a question that remains unanswered; why did Scooter make the false statements?

First, I am assuming that the prosecutor's claims are correct (if his evidence is thin, then all bets are off). If the prosecutor's evidence is solid, then I think there are two possibilities as to why Libby lied. First is that it is quite plausible that Libby does not actually recall what he said to reporters. (I have plenty of meetings and conference calls in my own line of work and a year later it is often difficult to remember much detail from specific meetings). The second possibility is that Scooter was trying to cover up his own mess and that telling the truth had worse consequences than committing perjury for Libby personally. I think the second scenario is the most plausible scenario.

Investigators started asking questions on the leak case towards the end of 2003 and Libby was called before the Grand Jury in March of 2004. We should assume that Libby had good enough counsel to advise him that he did not violate the 1982 "exposing a covert agent" law nor the older espionage law when he urged reporters to look into Plame in there'll summer of 2003. Therefore, the question is asked... why not tell the investigators or the grand jury that you did leak the name.?

I think the answer is actually quite simple. It is because Libby had more to lose personally from telling the truth than getting convicted on Perjury - better to spend some time in Jail than ruin your entire future career.

Libby would have assumed (and rightly so) that anything he told the grand jury or investigators would be leaked to the press. Therefore, if he told the truth to the grand jury (that he leaked Plame's name to reporters), the press would have been all over the "secret White House cabal" to expose Plame to get back at Wilson. The press would have used Libby's statements that he leaked Plame to drum up endless speculation that could only be put to rest by the Prosecutor wrapping up his case and announcing that no charges would be filed...implying that Libby violated no law because Plame was not in fact undercover. This is clearly obvious because most news stories STILL DO NOT discuss the fact that Plame was not undercover. The only way to end the speculation is when the investigation ends and no files are charged. However, because the end of the investigation would not occur until after the election, Libby could not rely on the cabal speculation going away before the election. Thus, telling the truth starts to become a non-option for Libby. If the Plame speculation grows out of proportion, Libby could be blamed (unfairly) by Republicans for losing the election because of his stupid mistakes in his conversations with reporters. This would destroy Libby's career - he would never work in DC again and would become the Bill Buckner of the Republican party. As it turns out, the election was so close that a full blown made up MSM scandal in the white house in the summer fall of 2004 would have tipped the election.

Consequently, the only other alterative Libby had was to lie to keep the cabal speculation underwraps until after the election and to risk a perjury conviction. Although Libby would pay some fines and maybe serve some jail time, he would still have a future in politics. Moreover, his own lawyers could leak his testimony to the press to put limit the cabal speculation *which is what actually occurred).

If my scenario option is true, Libby should be considered a hero. He did his best to try and fight back against the lies coming from Wilson and the CIA, but also did not sacrifice the Administration for his own mistakes.

UPDATE: Speculation on the mind of Libby still does not take away the question of why Fitzgerald pursued the case for two years. The first thing Fitzgerald should have done was to determine if Plame was in fact "covert." This could have been determined with little effort (no need to for a grand jury). If she was not "covert" (which most experts believe she is not) then why would the case be pursued other than for a politcal agenda???? Did Fitzgerald leave proving that element for the end of his investigation??? What a bastard if he did.

Cool Blog

For legal and economics analysis, check out this blog by Nobel Economist Gary Becker and federal judge Richard Posner -- apparently started in December. www.becker-posner-blog.com

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

What's with the sudden interest in Chicago Economics? (Post below, Gary Becker blog).

10:19 PM, October 30, 2005  

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Craig Westover's Halloween Costume

I found this on Craig Westover's webpage -- very funny.

From the Governor's Office --

Governor’s Residence Open for Trick-or-Treating October 31st

WHAT: Children are invited to wear their costumes and go trick-or-treating at the Governor’s Residence.

WHEN: Monday, October 31, 2005Begins at 4:00 p.m.Ends when all caramel apples have been handed out.

WHERE: Front gate of the Governor’s Residence, 1006 Summit Avenue


I'm going disguised as a health impact fee. Any other suggestions?

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Gee, I wonder if I should have put out trick-or-treat invitations . . . Now, I bet nobody will come. Wait:

Attn, JAS Members and Blog Readers:

I have a whole bunch of snack size candy bars. Ring my doorbell anytime between 5 and 8 tonight or until candy gone. Costume attire recommended.

9:39 AM, October 31, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Ok, I saw about 30 or so kids, some old enough to be JAS Members, but no actual JAS Members. NOW what am I supposed to do with all this chocolate? What, was everyone in line for caramel apples over on Summit? Phewey, they probably had razor blades in them. Serves you right!

Happy Hallows Eve, y'all.

7:50 PM, October 31, 2005  

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Supreme Court Nomination Imminent?

For summary of late-breaking news and commentary on U.S. Supreme Court, the following site run by U.S. Supreme Court practitioners in D.C. is useful: www.scotusblog.com

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Scalito! Hip, hip, hurray! (ad nauseum) The President has redeemed himself.

6:13 AM, October 31, 2005  

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Chicago School of Economics -- Defined

I found this historical perspective on the "Chicago School of Economics" which may be helpful for those interested in economics:

The "Chicago School" is perhaps one of the better known American "schools" of economics. In its strictest sense, the "Chicago School" refers to the approach of the members of the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago over the past century. In a looser sense, the term "Chicago School" is associated with a particular brand of economics which adheres strictly to Neoclassical price theory in its economic analysis, "free market" libertarianism in much of its policy work and a methodology which is relatively averse to too much mathematical formalism and willing to forego careful general equilibrium reasoning in favor of more results-oriented partial equilibrium analysis. In recent years, the "Chicago School" has been associated with "economic imperialism", i.e. the application of economic reasoning to areas traditionally considered the prerogative of other fields such as political science, legal theory, history and sociology.
The "Chicago School" has had various phases with quite different characteristics. Nonetheless, the main consistent factor seems to be that it has always held a unique,distinct and influential place in the realm of economics at any time. In the modern day, under the "Chicago School" umbrella, we can count various further schools of thought which are discussed in more detail elsewhere: e.g. Monetarism in the 1960s, New Classical/Real Business Cycle macroeconomics from the 1970s until today, and more recently, the New Institutionalism, New Economic History and Law-and-Economics movements.
The University of Chicago was founded in 1892 by oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. Its initial economics department, under the leadership of the American apologist, J. Laurence Laughlin, counted radical American Institutionalists such as Thorstein Veblen, Wesley Mitchell and John Maurice Clark among its faculty. In this period, the department was like any other in the United States.
The "Chicago School" really began in the 1920s with the diumvurate of Frank H. Knight and Jacob Viner. They were, for the most part, theoreticians (Knight more in the Jevonian-Austrian tradition, Viner leaning towards the Marshallian). In an age when empiricism ruled most of American economics, Knight and Viner set up the economics department at Chicago as a bastion of counter-institutionalism and, as such, the department soon acquired something of a "siege" mentality. Also at Chicago during this time were the "Mathematical Trio" -- Oskar Lange, Henry Schultz and Paul H. Douglas -- economists with a particular bent for the theoretical approach of the Lausanne School. Younger faculty included monetary theorists Henry C. Simons and Lloyd Mints.
The characteristics of the early Chicago School of 1920-1950 differ considerably from the later Chicago School. They were highly suspicious of "positivistic" economic methodology and denounced economic imperialism, arguing for a confined role for economic analysis (esp. Knight). They were suspicious of the efficiency claims of laissez-faire economics, arguing for it only on a "non-consequential" basis. They welcomed active government policies to cure recessions (esp. Viner's recommendations on "reinflating" the economy, and Simons's "Chicago Plan" for counter-cyclical monetary policy), and counted a fully-fledged socialist in their ranks (Lange). Furthermore, most of the faculty was not averse to rigorous, theoretical general equilibrium reasoning, but were leading practitioners of the art (Lange, Schultz, Douglas).
However, like the later Chicago School, the early Chicago School was hostile to "alternative" economic paradigms. For the most part, they did not welcome the Keynesian Revolution in macroeconomics and denounced the Monopolistic Competition approach in microeconomic theory. To a good extent, the issues these "alternative" paradigms purported to solve, they felt could be handled reasonably well within the confines of Neoclassical theory.
The economics department underwent an upheaval during the 1940s. Schultz died with tragic suddenness, Viner left for Princeton, Lange left for political life in Poland and Douglas became a U.S. Senator. Knight, whose interests were moving away from economic theory, went into semi-retirement, handing the reigns of the department over to Simons, Mints and Director.
There was a new injection of blood during this period as the department tried to regain its bearings. The first lurch was towards Walrasian economics. Several students associated with the departed Lange and Schultz remained -- such as Yntema and Mosak -- and Chicago went on to welcome Jacob Marschak, Tjalling Koopmans and the the Cowles Commission right next door. The Walrasian period lasted until 1955, when it moved (was hounded off?) to Yale.
The 1940s also saw the appointment of development theorists H. Gregg Lewis and Bert F. Hoselitz. These appointments were accompanied by a group of agricultural economists, Theodore W. Schultz, D. Gale Johnson and Walter Nicholls, who had been left Iowa State in protest over one of the most famous violations of academic freedom. Apparently, the powers-that-be of Iowa, home of the American dairy industry, had pressured the university to force a young economist to recant a study in which he had concluded that margarine was no less nutritious than butter.
In the 1960s, the department began to congeal into a new shape, led by George J. Stigler and Milton Friedman. This is what became the "Second" Chicago School, which is perhaps the most famous and polemical one. Stigler and Friedman were avowed Marshallians, and eschewed the methodology of the now-departed Walrasians of the Cowles Commission. As the contemporary ditty went:
"I read my Marshall completely throughFrom beginning to end and backward tooI read my Marshall so carefullyThat now I am Professor at U of C".
The Stigler-Friedman period was characterized by faithful adherence to Neoclassical economics and maintained itself dead against the concept of market failures, reinforcing the Chicago School stance against imperfect competition and Keynesian economics. Through their influential journals -- notably, the Journal of Political Economy and the Journal of Law and Economics -- the research programme of the Chicago School was advanced and diffused. It was the Second Chicago School that is often accused of being the modern version of Manchester School liberalism (or, as some maintain, the more conservative tradition of American apologism).
In microeconomics, led by George Stigler, the guiding maxim in the Chicago approach was to preserve the Neoclassical paradigm whenever possible, never to doubt it. When there is no obvious solution to a particular problem, the recommended course was to extend the Neoclassical paradigm by incorporating new concepts into it that would make the subject matter amenable to economic analysis. Examples of extensions to the Neoclassical paradigm conceived by Chicago economists are search theory (due to George Stigler), human capital theory (due to Gary Becker and T.W. Schultz) and property rights/transaction cost theory (due to Ronald H. Coase).
The Chicago School's impulse for extension of Neoclassical price theory is largely responsible for the "imperialist" character of which it is often accused. Business and finance, previously the prerogative of practitioners and business schools, were brought into the economic spotlight by Chicago economists such as A.W. Wallis, Harry Markowitz, Merton H. Miller and Eugene F. Fama. Further afield, political science and institutional theory were brought into Neoclassical economics by Chicago School economists such as G.J. Stigler, R.H. Coase, James Buchanan, Armen Alchian and Harold Demsetz. Economic history were given a Neoclassical reading by Robert W. Fogel and Douglas C. North, while the Chicago Law School (esp. Richard Posner and William M. Landes) used economics to rethink swathes of legal theory. Perhaps most famously, sociological issues like addiction, family and even marriage were given a thoroughly economic interpretation in the hands of Gary S. Becker and Jacob Mincer.
[Naturally, not all the "Chicago School" economists are at the University of Chicago, e.g. Alchian, Mincer, North, etc., but it is not unreasonable to argue that they are part of that school of thought.]
[George P. Shultz, better known as the Secretary of Labor and subsequently of the Treasury under Richard Nixon and later Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, Shultz was also professor of industrial relations and later dean of the Business School at Chicago during the 1960s.]
[It is revealing that the adamantly anti-imperialist Friedrich A. von Hayek, who was at Chicago during the 1950s, was confined to an appointment on an interdisciplinary "Committee on Social Thought", rather than the economics department proper. Walrasian theory, which has tended to be of more limited scope, has also had very little presence at Chicago over the past half-century: the only theorist to have successfully infiltrated the Chicago citadel was Hugo Sonnenschein, but then he came as president of the university. With the exception of the work of Lester Telser, the "alternative" paradigm of game theory has also been conspicuously absent until recently.]
In macroeconomics, the most renowned phase of the Chicago School has been that of "Monetarism" under the leadership of Milton Friedman, its best-known advocate. For the longest time, Chicago was the only school in America not swept by the Keynesian Revolution (the presence of Lloyd A. Metzler for a brief period on the faculty was exceptional). This does not mean that the old Chicago School was opposed to government intervention - indeed, Viner's policy conclusions are at times hard to distinguish from Keynes's. But in Friedman's Monetarism, it found a theoretical and empirical means by which to begin rolling back the Keynesian revolution. Although prominent in the 1960s, Friedman has always claimed that the main tenets of Monetarism can be found in the work of early Chicago School economists such as Henry Simons. (see our survey of Monetarism).
Monetarism has since given way to the more mathematically rigorous "New Classical" economics of Robert E. Lucas in the 1970s and 1980s. The quantitatively-oriented "Walrasian" flavor of New Classicism meant that the appointments of Robert Lucas, Thomas Sargent, Michael Woodford and Robert Townsend at Chicago met with quite some opposition from the older hands. Nonetheless, in its policy conclusions and rigorous adherence to Neoclassical theory, the New Classical school remains by most accounts the natural inheritor of the Chicago School mantle in modern macroeconomics.
Despite, or perhaps as a result of, its mischievous but always unique perspective, the University of Chicago has taken in a lion's share of Nobel Prizes in economics: Milton Friedman, T.W. Schultz, G.J.Stigler, R.H. Coase, G.S. Becker, M.H. Miller, R.W. Fogel and R.E.Lucas were all on the Chicago faculty when they received their awards. If we were to add Chicago-trained economists, the list of Nobelists would expand to include Hebert Simon, James Buchanan, Harry Markowitz and Myron Scholes.

I copied this information from http://cepa.newschool.edu/het/schools/chicago.htm (the History of Economic Thought Webpage).

Friday, October 28, 2005

Who now?

Tradesports has Sam Alito (left) at 31 cents (to win a dollar if he's nominated) and Michael Luttig (middle) at 19 cents. That's a fifty percent chance that one of them will be nominated. I'm not a lawyer and not familiar with any of them.

But I do wish we could clone Scalia. He has a really nice article in First Things, a review of Law Professor Steven Smith's book Law's Quandry.

Smith's thesis is that the law community says that religion is not allowable in a discussion of the law, but then acts as if the law exists as something separate from judges. Scalia argues that this is, in fact, not a quandry at all. If a judge restricts his role to interpreting the actual texts of statutes and constititions, then he does not need to believe or act like he believes that the there is some such thing as the law floating around out there. We only have a quandry - we need this disembodied law floating around but don't want to admit it's there - if we have an expansive view of the role of a judge.

And assuming this is a picture of Luttig: doesn't he look a bit too much like Stuart Smalley?

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I thought he looked like Dick Gephardt, who looks like Stuart Smalley.

5:58 PM, October 29, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Luttig clerked for Scalia, and Alito has been nicknamed Scalito, so the odds are that they'd be close. Certainly better bets than Miers.

9:50 AM, October 30, 2005  

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers' Nomination Exposes Elitist-Populist Fissure on Right

I am glad that Harriet Miers has withdrawn from the nomination process. I hope President Bush now nominates a principled conservative with a track record demonstrating commitment to judicial conservatism -- like my former law professor Michael McConnell.

But, I do think the Harriet Miers' nomination was useful to remind conservative populists of how elitist many of their friends on the right are. There are two types of people that ruin conservativism when it is put into action: ideologues and hacks. Ideologues are so committed to their ideas of America that that they begin to commit treason to conservatism -- which in the end is a people-based and values-based pragmatism. Hacks are so committed to their own self-centered agenda that they use the brand "conservatism" for their own political ends -- of course, damaging the brand "consevatism" as they go along.

Many conseservative elitists were exposed in the bashing of Miers. Not so much in their opposition to Miers -- but their reasons for being opposed to Miers. Now, we know that many of these elitists are ideologues and/or hacks. This is useful information in the next round of politics.

Query: if Alberto Gonzalez is nominated, how will the snobby elitists (or is it elitist snobs) react?

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Was elitism a culprit in the quirmish over the latest SCOTUS nomination? I agree with the SSC that it was.

We watched as a President attempted to ramrod through a candidate of his choosing, a close friend, against the wishes of the People and his own split party.

10:39 AM, October 27, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

It is a generaly truth that conservatism should be devoid of ideology. However, elitism doesn't necessarily equal ideology; there are plenty of anti-intellecual ideologues as well. SSC's observation is therefore flawed.

11:05 AM, October 27, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I would feel better about being criticized as an ideological elitist than were I to be called, say, a populist hack.

Populism does not exclude elitism. A populist elitist brands a red P on his chest and denounces all other varieties of elitism, or his perception thereof.

11:17 AM, October 27, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

(I'm not calling anyone a populist hack; I'm merely demonstrating examples of populist elitism.)

11:28 AM, October 27, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

ssc writes:

Query: if Alberto Gonzalez is nominated, how will the snobby elitists (or is it elitist snobs) react?

Personally? With an aneurysm.

4:07 PM, October 27, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...


I have wanted to be magnanimous all day and not respond to this post, other than with the preceding post (a joke).

But I've reread it and lost my ability to be a good winner. You write

But, I do think the Harriet Miers' nomination was useful to remind conservative populists of how elitist many of their friends on the right are. ... Now, we know that many of these elitists are ideologues and/or hacks.

Query: Can you actually tell me who among the anti-Miers crowd was being elitist and why this was a bad thing?

Query: Can you actually tell me who among the anti-Miers crowd was being a hack?

Query: Is there an argument in this post? Is there any substance other than a series of unsupported assertions and insults?

10:22 PM, October 27, 2005  
Blogger ssc said...

In answer to Harsh Pencil's inquiries, then let's move on:

1. Check weekend's Gospel readings regarding humility. In my opinion, the character attacks of many elitists were (characteristically) not rooted in humility. I think the tone and the substance was over the top -- and unnecessary. It's not always how you win, but how you play the game -- particularly in politics.

2. Hackery-- hacks are all over the place in politics. A hack would be one who would advance oneself regardless of principle. For example, hacks would be inflicted with careerism. Institutions filled with hacks don't work very well. Congress, judgeships (whether appointed or elected), agencies, etc. at times are full of hacks. A lot of hacks jumped on the bandwagon against Miers -- even before she had a chance to speak for herself. Why?

3. No -- the insult is suggesting that my populism is not principled. By explaining my view on elitism, I hardly attempt to end discussion -- I hope to begin it. We've had previous posts about "elitism", "populism" and "faux elitism" in America, I don't think this post was much different than the general discussion. Certainly, I meant in a general sense against all elitists -- not any particular one. Remember, "the humbled shall be exalted"

In summary, I am glad that Harriet Miers withdrew and I hope the President appoints McConnell. I am still not happy about the elitist critique of Miers for the reasons stated before.

I and other populists will not soon forget.

9:01 PM, October 30, 2005  

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OUT! The nomination was good for the blog though.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Matter of Time

Yes, I'm gloating. Pencil can toggle off his exclamation point lock. (Was that a macro you created to replace all punctuation marks?)

This took a little longer than I thought, and damaged those involved a little more than necessary, but it will be good to put it behind us.

Now, who are we talking? Janice Rogers Brown would be worthy.

8:44 AM, October 27, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I think it is a great day for the conservative movement...that is if Bush appoints someone worthy as a replacement.

I was heartened to hear Nancy Pelosi and RINOs on NPR this morning complaining about budget cuts!!! This is fantastic. Finally, the congress is showing some guts.

9:08 AM, October 27, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

It can be a great day for the Conservative movement, IF the White House bags the affirmative action nonesense and picks from the WHOLE pool of talent, not just one corner of it.

10:02 AM, October 30, 2005  

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Uncontrollable Pessimism

A fellow John Adams member (who shall remain unamed) has often told me that the problem with conservativism is the never ending battle against pessimism - a battle that he and many conservatives are constantly engaged in. I have to admit that I am generally an optimist, so I had difficulty understanding what he meant by this pessimism... that is until I read this column by Peggy Noonan.

..since 9/11, in the four years after that catastrophe, I have wondered if it hasn't all gotten too big, too complicated, too crucial, too many-fronted, too . . . impossible.

Read it all. It is truly pathetic.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Miers is out. Maybe Noonan will have a better day today.

8:15 AM, October 27, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

That column was, well, a bit of a downer.

But we also cannot blind ourselves to the spiraling entitlements, existing, newly enacted, and twinkles in democrats' eyes.

I predict, in the future, everyone will be on welfare.

It's wonderful to be an optimist if one is also realistic. But, all too often, blind optimism is what allows the buffoons to spend into oblivion, hoping production wil always be able to close the gap.

The antidote IS to have a few Noonans around to talk about the emperor's bare naked saggy body.

8:58 AM, October 27, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I like to tell my students that there is free disposal in ideas. Thus, when proposing ideas, it doesn't really matter that much how many bad ideas you have, but how many good original ideas you have. It is like this with Noonan. Often, you have to just chuck what she says. But when she's on, she can be quite original and instructive. Today's is one to chuck.

1:09 PM, October 27, 2005  

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More Mao

Continuing my read of Mao: the Untold Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday;
Mao is known to have run the classic insurgency. His tactics were Soviet in origin. The Communists would rile up local peasants to commit terrible acts in response to false propaganda about the local land owners or government leaders. This would lead to essentially turning the locals and their families into criminals on the run, with no other outlet other than to join Mao and the revolution.

Once Nationalist troops began to apply pressure, Zhu [Mao's Lieutenant] had to run, and thousands of civilians went with him: the families of the activists who had done the burning and the killing, who had no where else to go. This was what Moscow had intended: peasants must be coerced into doing things that left no way back to a normal life. To "get them to join the revolution," the party had decree, "there is only one way: use Red terror to prod them into doing things that leave them with no chance to make compromises later with the gentry and the bourgeoisie. One man from Leiyang recounted: "I had suppressed [i.e., killed] counter-revolutionaries, so I could not live peacefully now. I had to go all the way so I burned my own house with my own hands and left [to join the Revolution].

This strategy turned traditional Chinese culture upside down, which is what Mao wanted. It's interesting to note that the same tactic was applied by the Viet Cong in the mid 1960s. (The Vietcong were advised by both the Soviets and the Chinese). The U.S. however, failed at the time to understand what was going on and did not properly fight the VietCong insurgency. Many today argue that if the U.S. Military would have engaged in a wider "enclave strategy" sooner in South Vietnam, the local population would have fully supported the South Vietnamese government by 1968. Even though the VietCong became a non-threat after 1968, it was too late.

In Iraq, it appears that an "enclave strategy" was applied right away starting in late 2003. This strategy has lead to the commonly heard 15 out of 19 provinces being free of violence. Perhaps the U.S. military is learning from history. However, it is also true that there is no "Soviet Union" to provide the insurgents in Iraq with "revolutionary support." This is a fact the critics, who like to call Iraq the next Vietnam, often forget.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

You note that there is no Soviet Union around anymore to add fuel to the fire. What you don't note is that part of the reason there is no longer a Soviet Union is in fact the Vietnam war. Simple fact was, we could afford the support we gave, they could not. It was really the start of their economic colapse.

10:12 AM, October 30, 2005  

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The Chameleon

I think I'm beginning to figure out Harriet Miers. She's a chameleon. She's whatever you want her to be.

How else can you reconcile the following:

From a questionnaire from the Texans United for Life:


"The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual women's right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion. "


"Where science determines the facts, the law can effectively govern. However, when science cannot determine the facts and decisions vary based upon religious belief, then the government should not act."

The former seems pretty pro-life while the latter are standard liberal boilerplate, but both come from Harriet Miers (and not that long apart). So what gives?

Answer: Miers tells people what they want to hear. The questionnaire was from a right to life group. The speech was to a women's group.

If she gets confirmed, we can only hope that Miers latches on to Roberts instead of Kennedy or Souter.

(PS: To John Roberts. If Harriet Miers calls you "the coolest Chief Justice ever - deserving of great respect!", make her your personal lawyer. She'll follow you anywhere - assuming that she doesn't figure out she's hit a glass ceiling.)

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I'm convinced. Hugh Hewitt is starting to be ecome a shrill over this. Today he said following an interview with David Frum that neither of them could be convinced otherwise.... EXCUSE ME HUGH! Of course you can change your mind. The Miers debate is not Left vs. Right, it's not about conservative principles, it's whether she or someone else should be appointed t the Court.

Clearly Miers has proven to all of us that she should not be on the Court (caveat: I support Miers over say... Blackmun).

10:11 PM, October 26, 2005  

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The Fisherman Grasshopper in a Snowbank Proverb

We’re all familiar with Aesop’s fable of the busy ant that works all summer, putting away stores for the winter, and the happy-go-lucky grasshoppers living for the moment, inhaling 2 packs a day, with nothing in reserve. The latter is my tenant.

I’ve been giving my tenant fish, to warily mix my metaphors, feeding him for the day, employing him with renovations to 2 anthills in the last month (being certain to deduct 2 months of flounder lest I not see it otherwise). But with winter coming, the lake will be freezing over, and my grasshopper will be hard-pressed to find fish to sustain his hand-to-mouth-to-lungs habits.

As an ant, my reserves are only so large, and I simply won’t feed this grasshopper all winter. As much as I’d hate to, I’d have to kick out his unsightly grasshopper ass along with his shack-up grasshopper-ette and baby grasshoppers. He has fair warning that I’m cold-hearted: my car sports Republican bumper stickers. No need to teach him to fish; he knows how. So I’m doing the only thing left, providing the lure, signs advertising his fishing, um, carpentry/handyman skills. (Were any of my fellow bloggers to need grasshopper services on the western side of town, you know how to reach me.)

The moral of the story: give a grasshopper a fish and feed him for a day, lead a grasshopper to water and give him a lure but you can’t make him fish, so hope the ultimate threat of sleeping in a snow bank motivates him.

Just another warm winter reflection brought to you by the Scribbler.

More on Miers

SSC below demands "Miers Critics Need to Offer More". Ok, here's more.

1) Affirmative action and quotas : She's for quotas, goals, timetables (the whole bag) and clearly doesn't think they violate the plain language of the 14th amendment or the 1964 Civil Rights act.

2) On the role of the courts (from 1993 speech) "My basic message here is that when you hear the Courts blamed for activism or intrusion where they do not belong ... Stop and examine what the elected leadership has done to solve the problem at issue and whether abdication to courts to make the hard decisions is not a too prevalent tactic in today's world. Politicians who are too concerned about maintaining their jobs." (ellipses in original)

So let's get this straight. Rather than criticizing the courts for overstepping their bounds, we should see whether our elected leadership (who, shockingly, worries about getting reelected) is "abdicating." And exactly who decides whether the elected leaders are abdicating as opposed to simply deciding to do nothing? The courts of course! You see, the Mass. Supreme Court had no question but to legalize gay "marriage." The legislators were simply abdicating their responsibility to do something about equal rights for gays! (This is not an idle worry. Miers'speech was made after the Texas Supreme Court read into the Texas Constitution that the funding scheme for Texas schools was unconstitutional and was getting much flack for this. Miers, instead of criticizing the court for overturning a funding scheme around for decades, criticized the legislature for not "doing something" about public education.) And this is the woman we want to help reign in the courts? This reasoning (the legislature just wasn't solving the problem!) can be used to justify court interference anywhere and everywhere.

3) Abortion: (from the same speech) "The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual women's right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion. " Does this sound more like Kate Michelman or someone ready to overturn Roe v. Wade?

ssc? S'saurus?

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Miers is a mistake.

10:15 PM, October 26, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

This must have been the last straw. And the S'aurus comment. Who wouldn't have thrown in the towel?

9:22 AM, October 27, 2005  

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Wilson and the MSM

A must read from Stephan Hayes on how the MSM loves Joe Wilson at all costs.

Shortage of Suicide Bombers

Strategy Page reports that the insurgency is suffering a shortage of suicide bombers in Iraq. How depressing for the insurgency. Perhaps Psyops has spread a nasty rumor that Heaven is full and there are no more virgins left.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Iraq Notes and Predictions

The Constitutional Referendum vote last week is the beginning of the end of major American troop involvement in Iraq. The elections in Decemeber will give the Iraqi government the legitimacy to sustain itself in battling the ongoing insurgency, which may continue to rage for the coming future. The Iraqi troops will carry on the fight with the support of the Iraqi people.

However, without major superpower support, the Insurgency will eventually die out. Expect troops to start withdrawing on December 16. Expect our force to number less than 50,000 by October 2006 (unless a revolution in Syria or Iran requires action).

We will be in Iraq for many years in the future as a trip-wire against foreign invasion and against any military coup (as we did in S. Korea for years), but with a much smaller more invisible force, which is not engaged.

The victory in Iraq is also the beginning of the end of the Al Qaeda movement. With defeat in Iraq and no other victories since the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan, recruiting will fall off and eventually die out... at least until the next great revolutionary ideological movement whatever that may be (perhaps eco-terrorists).

Historians will eventually come to agreement that the strategic turning point of the conflict was the brilliant political and military defeat of Sadr in Najef in April, 2004. Once Sadr was defeated, we secured the support of at least 80% of the population, which was verified when the Constitution was passed last week. All other tactical battles that followed should be considered part of the eventual mop-up operations of the insurgency.

History may also judge Iraq as the American war where we gained the most for the least cost in both casualties and money (save the Revolution).

Mao's first meeting

I am reading a new biography called Mao: the Untold Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, which so far is excellent. I found this quite interesting:

The CCP's 1st Congress opened in Shanghai on 23 July 1921, attended by 13 people - all journalists, students or teachers....not one was a worker.

How funny, they were fighting for the workers! Isn't this true of all great revolutionary leaders...elitist to the core.

Last Minute Interviews

According to Reuters, investigators are running around to interview neigbors:

Marc Lefkowitz, who lives across the street from Plame, told Reuters two FBI agents asked him on Monday if he knew about Plame's CIA work before her identity was leaked to the press in 2003. Lefkowitz said he told them: "I didn't know."

The writer then speculates:

Two lawyers involved in the case said such questioning could indicated that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald intended to charge administration officials for the leak itself, in addition to possible charges for easier-to-prove crimes like perjury and obstruction of justice.

This seems odd. If I was investigating whether the cover of Plame was blown I would have asked her neighbors on the first day of the investigation if they knew she was CIA. Why wait until the last day.... How can you be sure they remember from two years ago after so much partisan press about it. It seems that if the prosecutor had a strong enough case to indict he would have known by now without having to do some last minute questioning of the neighbors (unless of course he was hoping a neighbor would "obstruct" so he could prosecute the neighbor).

One possibility is that the prosecutor doesn't want any "press surprises" from the nieghbors, so he is getting them on record before the indictments come out. If that is the case then the prosecutor isn't as "straight" as we have been led to believe...

UPDATE: CBS News reports that indictments, if any, will come tomorrow. Except that the major indictment will be for a Mr. X, a lower level official outside the whitehouse other than Rove or Libby. The speculation is limitless. This story is a reporters dream. Imagine if the Kennedy assassination occurred today.

Rove/Libby Plea Agreement

If either Karl Rove or Scooter Libby is indicted by the Special Prosecutor, I wonder what kind of plea agreement will be offered to them. It shouldn' be any worse than what Bill Clinton received:

On his last day in office, Clinton agreed to accept a five-year suspension of his Arkansas law license. In exchange, Clinton will receive immunity from further prosecution and avoids a possible indictment on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice after he leaves office. Clinton acknowledged he knowingly gave false answers to questions about Lewinsky when he was deposed in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Clinton said today's agreement brings "complete closure" to the matter.

Libby is a lawyer, so maybe he will agree to a plea to suspend his law license for a year in a state that he doesn't live in (if his law license is still up to date). Im not sure that Rove is a lawyer, but Rove must have a license in something that can be suspended. Maybe Rove's scooter license in Oklahoma can be suspended.... After that both men should be allowed to return to work (as Clinton did).

This all assumes, of course, that the Prosecutor will agree to such a plea. Whether it happens or not, Clinton's plea agreement will be the talking point if any indictments occur. They should plea out almost immediatly... the media would be so pissed.. crying "WHERE IS OUR TRIAL DAMMIT!"

Monday, October 24, 2005

Worst Case/Best Case

Tonight on Hardball, Chris Matthews asked Tucker Carlson, Tony Blankly, and the man "whose name cannot be spoken" what would be the worst case/best case scenario for Bush on the Plame Flame case. All three said no indictments would be the best case scenario for Bush. Although the unspeakable one went further and said the whole case was really about bringing Bush to account for "lying to the American people" and invading Iraq.

However, I can think of better cases for the Administration than "no indictments." How can we know that the prosecutor won't bring indictments against unnamed as of yet CIA employees for leaking information to the press for the purpose of discrediting the White House. This seems far more illegal and immoral to me considering Bush is the one who can declassify information, not skerbs at the CIA. Leaking is going on all over the place in the civil service. The press has all kinds of liberal buddies with "tenure" leaking like a sieve. How can the country ever remain free if the unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy has a culture of leaking classified information for the purpose of opposing the President who has been elected by the people. Perhaps there is a story here that has yet to be reported.

The prosecutor could also bring indictments against Joseph Wilson for trying use his wife's supposed cover to slander the Administration..... hmmm

These scenarios are unlikely because the press probably already knows what is going on (and has told us without really telling us) because of untold numerous leaks from the grand jury and the prosecutor's office (probably the prosecutor himself). Nevertheless it would be joyous to see the unspoken one squirm a little (I get the heebie jeebies just thinking about him...how disgusting).

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:13 AM, October 25, 2005  

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Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke is a Princeton professor of economics who moved to be the vice-chair (or a Fed governor, I can't remember) a few years ago, but recently moved to the White House to head the council of economic advisors. He is not a "Bush insider." He is basically an academic, research oriented macroeconomist who also, obviously, has an interest in affecting policy. As of last year, he was still writing academic papers.

He is most famous for work he did regarding the great depression. Milton Friedman's hypothesis (along with Anna Schwartz) was the great depression was essentially caused by an inept Federal Reserve which failed to keep the money supply from falling. Bernanke's hypothesis was that it was the collapse of the banking system itself, not the coincident fall of the money supply, which caused the depression.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

So was he on your list as possible replacements?

11:59 AM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger festivus said...

So, Mr. Pencil, I was interested in your personal view as to the wisdom of Bush's choice. Is that something that you care to provide? I will most certainly understand if you decline, but I think your opinion on this matter should weigh heavily among JAS Blog readers.

12:09 PM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

The Dow (a version of Tradesports) is up 120 pts today. Does this mean Bernanke is good news? Of course, good news for stocks could be bad news for other investments . . . Cessation of the incessant interest rate hikes would be good.

1:05 PM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

1) Bernanke was on everyone's list. He had been the favorite of tradesports for a long time.

2) I believe this is a good choice. Mr. Bernanke has been a public advocate of "inflation targeting." The idea being that the Fed formally state that it's goal is for, say, 2% inflation each year, and take its actions toward that goal, and be judged by how well it is reaching that goal. This is important because it helps change the public's expectations of what the Fed can and cannot do. Currently, everyone seems to believe the Fed runs the economy. It doesn't.

1:41 PM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Yeah, but he has Harvard and MIT degrees. Isn't that a touch elitist?

1:47 PM, October 24, 2005  

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Rove for Fed Chair!

Bush believed ready to name Greenspan successor

Whadya all think, Rove? Or maybe Laura would be good for it. Or one of the girls.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I heard that Bush was going to nominate his personal accountant.

10:31 AM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Who is Bernanke?

10:56 AM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Tradesports.com paused with Bernanke at 97 cents.

11:15 AM, October 24, 2005  

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Iraq and the Opposition

Great article here about Iraq and the opposition to democracy by the Left and others. A must read for all the misguided "forgot-my-history" Paleo-conservatives on the blog.

Is Zarqawi Taking Over

According to this report, Zarqawi is expanding his operations around the world and supplanting Osama Bin Ladin's network.

Al-Zarqawi is now seen as the top general who is putting in place al Qaeda's long campaign to establish an Islamic society throughout the Middle East, with Iraq at its heart.Al-Zarqawi is a hero to extremists. One of the London suicide bombers equated al-Zarqawi with bin Laden and al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri. In a video released last month, the bomber cited the three as his heroes.

I imagine a play is being made for the top leadership. Perhaps the play has already been made. The only problem with Zarqawi (and good for us) is that he doesn't seem to be as politically smart as Bin Ladin or Zawahiri.

Wondering more about the Plame case

The Plame case is fascinating only because it is completely a human affair, and it's filled with anticipation. The Wall Street Journal comments about it today:

All the more so because this entire probe began and has continued as a kind of proxy for the larger political war about the Iraq War. In July 2003, Joseph Wilson used his insider status as a former CIA consultant to accuse the Bush Administration of lying about Iraq WMD as an excuse to go to war. A political furor erupted, and Mr. Wilson became an antiwar celebrity who joined the Kerry for President campaign.

Amid an election campaign and a war, Bush Administration officials understandably fought back. One way they did so was to tell reporters that Mr. Wilson's wife, CIA analyst Valerie Plame, had been instrumental in getting him the CIA consulting job. This was true--though Mr. Wilson denied it at the time--as a bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee documented in 2004.

As it does many times each year following a press report with classified information, the CIA routinely referred this "leak" about Ms. Plame's status to the Justice Department for investigation. Only after someone (probably at the CIA) leaked news of this referral to the media in September 2003 was there another political uproar and calls for a "special prosecutor." Three months later, the panicky Bush Administration relented, and Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed.

I agree with this assesment. It seems that Wilson was trying to use his Wife's supposed secret status to get the job to go to Niger. He knew that no one would risk exposing his wife, so he felt he was safe.....but things changed.

The one thing that has always bugged me is all the supposed leaks of classified information. How does the press get a a hold of some of this stuff. A lot of it was supposedly being leaked from the CIA or State Department. This isn't supposed to happen. Fitzgerald should go after the lower level CIA leakers and expose them for these leaks.

UPDATE: Michael Barone also comments on the case.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Media Frenzy over Casualties

The Media and Cindy Sheehan are preparing to celebrate the 2000 casualty in Iraq.

While, I don't belittle the deaths of those who have died (they are all.. at least most heros), I personally expected 5,000 deaths in the war. I expected that the "insurgency" would have been a high intesive guerilla war by Saddam that would have been waged for months in Baghdad and other cities immediatly after the fall of Saddam's major armies. Instead the insurgency turned into a low level conflict that has gone on for a longer period. The low level conflict, however, has changed its character over time. Recall that a year ago, much of the news was about local Iraqi forces being attacked and defeated by roving bands of organized terrorists. Those stories don't occur anymore. Instead, the only thing that occurs is the suicide bomber and the roadside bomb. Deadly, but not enough to take over a government. The terrorists are no longer able to make any real tactical gains. The only war that remains is the war at home.

A great example of how things have changed is the famous airport road to baghdad. Last year the danger of the airport road was widely cited by the media as a prime example about how Iraq is out of control and in chaos. I haven't heard much about the road lately... that is because its no longer the highway of death.. instead it's now a normal road with bustling commerce.

We should remember that in most wars, the casualties increase as the war nears its end. Generally this is due to the logical theory and historical reality that both sides sides are engaging in ever closing quarters (the defender is holding their last piece of real estate and in turn throws in its final reserves).

Who knows if that will play out in Iraq...

Fund Has it Right on Miers

John Fund writes in the Wall Street Journal Tomorrow:

I believe it is almost inevitable that Ms. Miers will withdraw or be defeated. Should that happen, it is important President Bush understand how it really happened. While he acted out of sincerity, the nomination was quickly perceived by many as merely a means to a desired end: getting another vote for his views on the court. While some conservatives backed her because they honestly believed she would rule independently with an understanding of the limited role of judges envisioned by the Founders, that message was drowned out by accusations of cronyism and mediocrity.

Bush picked Miers because he wanted himself on the Court. Unfortunately, for Bush this is to difficult to explain through the normal processes. Thus, the nomination should be withdrawn. I do not believe withdrawing the nomination will have any lasting effect on Bush (unless he picks someone equally as bad or worse). Personally, I don't have a problem with Miers, but she is also not worth defending against fellow conservatives. The press will say Bush has been wounded... but, wounded in terms of who or what.. his ego?

Red Neck Yacht Club -- No. 1 on Country Charts

Redneck Yacht Club - Craig Morgan

I'm meeting my buddies out on the lake
we're headin out to a special place....
that just a few folks know.
there's no signing up, no monthly dues...
take your johnson, your mercury or your evinrude
and fire it up
meet us out at party cove
come on in, the waters fine
just idle on over and toss us a line

basstrackers, bayliners and a party barge,....
strung together like a floating trailer park
anchored out and gettin loud all summer long
side by side there's five houseboat front porches...
astroturf, lawn chairs and tiki torches
regular joes rocking the boat that's us.....
the redneck yacht club

Bermuda's' flip-flops and a tank top tan...
popped his first top at ten a.m.,
thats Bob he's our president
we're checking out the girls on the upper deck rubbin' in G15 spf,
its hot everybody's jumpin' in
later on when the sun goes down
we'll pull out the jar and the old guitar ....
and pass'em around


when the party's over and we're all alone . . .
we'll be making waves in a no wake zone


Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

That has to be Big Island on Minnetonka.

6:38 AM, October 24, 2005  

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Blogger poll

Truth Laid Bear is running a poll of bloggers regarding who supports or opposes Miers. He asks that specific wording be put in the blog so that he can do a search to keep track. So here goes,

I oppose the Miers nomination.

I encourage the other bloggers here to do the same thing (pro or anti). Sorry, S'saurus, there is no anti-anti-Miers option.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Are we registered w/ ecosystem? I don't see us in the results yet. We may only get one vote blog-wide.

7:04 PM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger festivus said...

I suspect that our blog will get only one vote.

7:24 PM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

We are registered, but they only update once a day. If our blog gets only one vote, then IT'S MINE. BWAHAAAHAAHAAAHAA!

7:38 PM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger ssc said...

Typical elitist.

8:46 PM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

My only comment is that I would not waste any of my time or energy fighting to confirm Harriet Miers.

At the same time, I think the anti-Miers crowd is spazzing out. It's embarrasing.

Again, the only really known reason to vote against Miers is that she has no record. Yet, Harsh Pencil below is claiming that she does have record (with regard to racial preferences). If you are willing to make this conclusion, than you should agree with my conclusion that Harriet Miers will be a hard core conservative vote on the court because to do otherwise means abandoning her life. Harriet Miers' entire personal social group is made up of conservatives. She has no kids to love her no matter what. She is not about to abandon her circle of friends at age 61 to become a liberal. Do you think liberals will want to start hanging out with Harriet...maybe all the pro life conservative christian liberals...

Just because you can't be fired from your job doesn't mean that you have the carte blanche option to switch sides. Having a job is only part of life.

9:39 PM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Having a record is not a zero-one thing. She has a very slim record, and for what little it is, it is all troubling.

10:56 PM, October 23, 2005  

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Miers Critics Need to Offer More

It's easy to say "No." But, what do Miers' critics stand for? Competence? Charles Fried in NYT today sounded a lot like Dukasis's 1988 campaign today -- maybe its the Massachusetts' water:

Once a conclusion has been reached it must be announced in an opinion setting out the circumstances, the competing considerations, and the reasons for that conclusion. Otherwise the parties will feel cheated and lower court judges, lawyers, and affected interests will have no guidance in dealing with the problem in the future. In this sense Chief Justice John Roberts -- who bids fair to becoming one of our great chief justices -- was wrong in saying that his job is just to call balls and strikes. It is that, but it is just as much to explain why he has made the calls he has. The courts are the only organs of government whose job it is not only to decide contentious issues but to explain those decisions. Its most important product is those explanations, on which the enduring effect of its decisions depends.

I think Fried errs because he spends too much time analyzing the reasons for an opinion -- discounting the result. For my part, with a federal judicial system that is so morally and politically confused that it promotes moral and political confusion, it would just be good if the U.S. Supreme Court got the results right in the easy cases: abortion, eminent domain abuse, gay rights, prayer in school, etc. Damn the reasoning. I can read the KELO opinion one hundred times -- the reasoning doesn't make it any easier to swallow.

For the moment, even if I concede that Miers is a results-oriented (rather than reason-oriented) choice, someone needs to explain to me why results are less important than reasoning. Good luck!

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I agree. In fact I am hoping for more 5 page opinions from the Court. Excessive reasoning is only needed to support judicial activism. THe more you stray from the words and original intent of the Consitution, the more you need to justify and rationalize your opinion. This is why we should fear to some extent those who are overly intellectual.... you may find them being too cute about their decisions.

It would take a 5 page opinion to overturn Roe. I am hoping for a clear and concise court, not a court that delivers gobs of dictum.

4:38 PM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

ssc, as I've said before, Churchill said to Chamberlain (paraphrasing from memory) "you had to choose between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor. Now you will have war."

My point being that the choice between results oriented and a good legal reasoner is a false choice (as Bubba Clinton will say). That she has no legal philosophy that I can discern gives me no confidence she will get the right answers.

Look at my post below. She is clearly pro-quotas even though the relevant statutes (in my non-lawyerly opinion) seem to plainly outlaw them. So what is your confidence that she will get the right results. Affirmative action is a big one for me. Race issues are tearing this country apart. We need to become race blind and she will be one more vote on the wrong side, and precisely because she isn't the type to read the plain language of a law (or, I suspect, the Constitution.)

5:17 PM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

The burden should be on the PRO side. It's a SUPREME COURT JUSTICE we're considering here.

As has been said over and over, there's very, very little that we know. What we do know isn't pretty.

Tell me why she's as good as Scalia.

6:44 PM, October 23, 2005  

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Miers Lacks Votes to be Confirmed

According to Schumer (for what that's worth).

"If you held the vote today, she would not get a majority either in the Judiciary Committee or the floor," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York. On the 18-member GOP-controlled committee, "there are one or two who said they'd support her as of now."

See My Way News for the full story.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Wait... your citing Schumer now in your anti-Miers campaign. I recall Capt. Pierce citing Michael Moore....

Anything Schumer says should be discounted and given little if any consideration (granted its not as kooky as citing Michael moore)

4:34 PM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Okay . . . It's also on FoxNews.com. Is that acceptable?

Frankly, in this case, it's more likely that we'll get the straight dope from a democrat than a republican.

7:45 PM, October 23, 2005  

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More Lawrence Fallout -- Court Cites Scalia in Knocking Down Sodomy Statute

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Kansas courts may not impose harsher penalties for homosexual sodomy among minors, than it does for sex between minors of opposite genders.

Kansas' so-called "Romeo and Juliet statute" permits lesser penalties for teenagers convicted of having sexual relations with a 14- or 15-year-old, when the offender is 18 or younger, less than four years older than the victim, and is a member of the opposite sex.

Matthew Limon was convicted of criminal sodomy and sentenced to 17 years for having consensual sex with a 14-year-old boy. If Limon had been convicted of having sex with a 14-year-old girl at age 18, he would have received a maximum sentence of 15 months -- and more likely probation for this offense. The Supreme Court of Kansas wrote:

[T]he State's interests fail under the holding in Lawrence that moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate governmental interest. As Justice Scalia stated: "If, as the [United States Supreme] Court asserts, the promotion of majoritarian sexual morality is not even a legitimate state interest," the statute cannot "survive rational-basis review." 539 U.S. at 599 (Scalia, J., dissenting).

During his incarceration, Limon was a cause celeb among gay and lesbian students at the University of Kansas -- who sent him postcards of support during his prison stay.

The High Court ruled that Limon may be re-charged under Kansas' statutory rape statute "without the words 'members of the opposite sex'" in the statute.

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

This absurd for two reasons

1) Dissents should carry zero weight. It is my understanding that they should have the same weight regarding how a lower court rules as, say, a letter to the editor by Scalia. They are dissents , which by definition are not the opinion of the court.

2) The idea that there is no conceivable rational basis for homosexual statutory rape vs. heterosexual statutory rape is absurd. Two scenarios,

a) you are 14 and the college girl next store gets you drunk and gives you the full Monica

b) you are 14 and the college guy next store gets you drunk and does the same thing.

For most guys, one would be a rather odd, and probably pleasant memory, and the other would require counseling. And the state has no concievable rational reason for treating these two cases differently?

11:57 AM, October 23, 2005  

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Wikipedia Ambiguous on Populism as a Political Philosophy

Today, I noticed that Wikipedia was ambiguous on Populism as a political philosophy. It is an outrage. Here is how Wikipedia defines "populism":

'Populism' is a political philosophy or rhetorical style that holds that the common person is oppressed by the elite in society, and that the instruments of the State need to be grasped from this self-serving elite and used for the benefit and advancement of the people as a whole. A populist reaches out to ordinary people, talking about their economic and social concerns, and appealing to their common sense. Most scholarship on populism since 1980 has discussed it as a rhetorical style that can be used to promote a variety of ideologies.
Populism is often used derisively against appeals on behalf of the people in opposition to the interests of elites, or against distrust directed at the political elite or at the political system.
Individual populists have variously promised to stand up to corporate power, remove "corrupt" elites, and "put people first." Populism incorporates anti-regime politics and sometimes
nationalism or racism. Many populists appeal to a specific region or a specific social class such as the working class, middle class, or farmers. Often they employ dichotomous rhetoric, and claim to represent the majority.

The definition is wrong. Populism is a political philosophy -- not a style. Populism can not be used to promote a "variety of ideologies." Populism is only about promoting the common good -- not ideology which it abhors. Racism is never part of Populism because racism is never part of promoting the common good. At most, Populists are reluctant nationalists or patriots for that matter.

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...


Being outraged by a Wikipedia definition is about the most elitist thing you can do, since, unlike the Encyclopedia Brittanica, anyone and his brother can put up Wikipedia posts. There are no "experts." It's the populist encyclopedia! (I can't help with the !!!! Blame Miers).

So quite complaining you egghead elitist. That's the definition of the people.

4:05 PM, October 22, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Main Entry: 1pop·u·list
Pronunciation: 'pä-py&-list
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin populus the people
1 : a member of a political party claiming to represent the common people; especially often capitalized : a member of a U.S. political party formed in 1891 primarily to represent agrarian interests and to advocate the free coinage of silver and government control of monopolies
2 : a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people

~ ~ ~ ~
To see what Progressive Living thinks of Populists, click here and here.

7:43 PM, October 22, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

SSC, so are you saying that most populists are really charlatans.

Is it even possible to obtain the status of a "true populist?" It seems to me that if people are generally unequal in most matters, how is it possible to obtain the most good for everyone other that obtaining it only for the lowest common denominator.

10:28 PM, October 22, 2005  
Blogger ssc said...

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. I'm rubber you're glue; everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

Look, a populist's dreamworld -- utopia really -- is everyone exchanging insults of "elitism" against each other.

Harsh Pencil has brought me a step closer to Nirvana.

10:40 PM, October 22, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I don't think calling someone elitist is name calling any more than calling someone handsome or intelligent is. You may find elitist to be a fightin word, but I don't.

But my point about Wikipedia stands. It is the encyclopedia of the people, so at least is it ironic that you wish to correct it.

10:47 PM, October 22, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Elitist is a frightening word, however, for someone claiming to be a populist.

8:14 AM, October 23, 2005  

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Miers NOT a "strict constructionist"

From today's Washington Post

As president of the State Bar of Texas, Harriet Miers wrote that "our legal community must reflect our population as a whole," and under her leadership the organization embraced racial and gender set-asides and set numerical targets to achieve that goal.

This should set to rest any notion that she might avoid "legislating from the bench." There is no question that if what Miers enacted had been reversed - set asides or targets to help ensure not too many minorities were in the Texas Bar or Texas Bar leadership - that this would have been seen by anyone to violate the 1964 Civil Rights act. Everyone knows you're not allowed to enact preferences in favor of whites since that automatically causes a preference against all other groups. It is also certain that Miers didn't think she was doing anything illegal by enacting preferences for blacks (and women). But to my knowledge, the 1964 Civil Rights Act mentions race, not blacks or minorities. Thus she must not see the law as governed by the plain language of the statute, but instead by acheiving the "right result."

Auntie-anti-Miers S'saurus. You with us now? (I've given up on ssc.)

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

This is at least clue #2 (See Miers, Enemy of the Constitution.

There are probably 20 to 30 clues out there, but unlike the bloggers who seem spend all day in front of the monitor, I only have 5 or so hours a day to surf, and most of that is spent shopping.

7:26 PM, October 22, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I have a hard time taking seriously anything that has to do with any state bar orgainization. The only person I can name who was ever president of any state bar association in America us.... Harriet Miers.

UPDATE: I just saw on FoxNews that the White House may be expecting a Miers withdrawl.

10:34 PM, October 22, 2005  

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Miers Stock Sinking Further

Tradesports is now accepting 23 cent bids on Miers' confirmation. (A 23 cents buy-in pays a dollar if she is confirmed.)

(This is usually Pencil's update, but I couldn't resist.)

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

No problem. I just came on the blog to post this myself. Good use of color! You are the coolest poster ever - deserving of great respect!

12:26 PM, October 22, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Did you buy some? It's up to 29.2 now. Maybe it's just the long shot players looking for a place to put their money after losing the Powerball.

6:56 PM, October 22, 2005  

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The Bridge to Nowhere -- or Perhaps the Nomination

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to divert $233 million in federal transportation dollars that were approved for a bridge proposal in Alaska, to rebuild the Twin-Spans Bridge in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana. The quarter-mile span in Alaska, known by critics as the "Bridge to Nowhere," would connect the port town of Ketchikan and its airport to neighboring Gravina Island. A ferry now links these two points.

The Amendment's threat to logrolling as we know it was real and substantial. Committee appropriators publicly rebuked the Amendment's sponsor, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, for suggesting that the sums could be diverted to better uses. Spendthrift Patty Murray (D-WA), savages Coburn for his common-sense and his moxie, interestingly enough, by blaming the Senate's lack of spending discipline on tax cuts. Sputters Murray:

If the Senator from Oklahoma wants to look for a culprit for the fiscal situation in this country, he should look into the billions and billions of dollars in tax cuts that have been granted to multimillionaires in this country, and he should look at additional tax cuts his party wants to implement in future years if he wants to find incredible savings.


I hope the Senate will not go down the road of cherry-picking individual projects that Senators have come to us and have championed on behalf of their constituents who do not live here in Washington, DC. I hope we do not go down the road deciding we know better than home State Senators about the merits of the projects they bring to us.

As the old saying goes: What is good for the goose is good for the gander. And I tell my colleagues, if we start cutting funding for individual projects, your project may be next. So, Mr. President, when Members come down to the floor to vote on this amendment, they need to know if they support stripping out this project, Senator Bond and I are likely to be taking a long, serious look at their projects to determine whether they should be preserved during our upcoming conference negotiations. We must not and we will not go down the road of picking on one Senator or another on the floor of the Senate. I urge a no vote on this amendment.

Likewise interesting was the final vote on Coburn's proposed re-routing: 15-82. Both Minnesota Senators voted no; but among Coburn's supporters were would-be Presidential contenders of both parties -- Feingold of Wisconsin, Bayh of Indiana and Allen of Virginia.

George Allen was looking pretty good to me long before Thursday -- but now he appears even better.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I can't say this vote impresses me terribly. The money is still being spent. Hurricane rebuilding might be slightly better that the previously allocated pork, but the massive price tag on the entire rebuilding effort sickens me, particularly as there seems to be so little oversight.

11:51 AM, October 22, 2005  

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Miers' Golden Parachute

In today's Washington Post, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer details one possible exit strategy for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers’ nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Krauthammer suggests that Senators should request all manner of documents regarding Ms. Miers’ tenure as White House Counsel; matters which the Chief Executive could not possibly surrender to the U.S. Senate, or anyone else. Continues Krauthammer:

Hence the perfectly honorable way to solve the conundrum: Miers withdraws out of respect for both the Senate and the executive's prerogatives, the Senate expresses appreciation for this gracious acknowledgment of its needs and responsibilities, and the White House accepts her decision with the deepest regret and with gratitude for Miers's putting preservation of executive prerogative above personal ambition. Faces saved. And we start again.
Well, since Mr. Krauthammer brought it up -- here is my view on the right golden parachute for Miers; and in my estimation, it would be far easier on President Bush. Here's the plan: Citing the questions about the depth of her experience in constitutional law, Ms. Miers should publicly request that her nomination be withdrawn and that the President consider her instead to the first available vacancy on a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal. She could stare determinedly into the television cameras at the press conference and declare that she has the "stuff" to the job, and would relish the opportunity to render proof of the same -- on a Circuit Court.

Faces saved; we start again; and I think that President Bush is better off than under the Krauthammer plan.


If my sources are correct.

Bush should appoint Miers his Chief of Staff. Bush needs to shake things up a little. He lives in a bubble.

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Tradesports now has her at 36 cents. What are these sources?

2:35 PM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Dum-dum-da-dum!Matter of Time

2:44 PM, October 21, 2005  

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Miers, an Enemy of the Constitution

If you are a pro-life conservative, should you be happy that Miers is on record as supporting a pro-life amendment to the US Constitution? No. A pro-life liberal would be thrilled, but Conservatives should be concerned with her disregard for federalism and states rights.

I am pro-life. I would support a nominee who is not pro-life, but subscribes strictly to the US Constitution, particularly to the 10th Amendment. Such a nominee-turned-justice would see the error in Roe v. Wade, voting to overturn it as a violation of a state’s right to enact criminal law.

A potential SCOTUS nominee that supports a pro-life constitutional amendment must view states’ rights as whimsical, open to sculpting. If such a nominee views the 10th Amendment in this fashion, he/she will view the rest of the Constitution as malleable.

You might argue that Miers at least wants to properly amend the Constitution to achieve her goals. I argue that at best she is near-sighted, at worst, an enemy of the Constitution.

Depending on wording, a pro-life amendment could wipe out the death penalty where applicable, but worse, contribute fodder to a more liberal court seeking to find nuances by combining sentiments from various select portions of the Constitution (see the “Right to Privacy”).

A pro-life Constitutional amendment is a bad idea. SCJ Miers is a worse idea.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I disagree. A truly pro-life person would support a Consitutional Amendment. What Miers did in supporting an amendment is perfectly consistent with conservatism. How else can you get all states to submit to a pro-life position? Federalism is considered "conservative" only because it provides a check and balance to federal power. However, in reality, federalism is only a tool of government architecture. For example, a check and balance against federal power is not so great of your local power is leftist and the feds are conservatives. Furthermore, federalism is not harmed too much by a consitutional amendment because 3/4ths of the states have to vote for the amendment for it to pass.

If Miers said she wanted to have an anti-Roe ruling from the Court, i.e., a case where the Court decides that no state can pass a law allowing an abortion then you would be correct. Miers, however, did not say she supported that.

12:10 PM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

And here is the broader point on which neocons and paleocons butt heads. Paleocons shun change, except when change is necessary to restore an original state.

Neocons believe there is such a thing as "good government." Paleocons recognize that government is inherently evil, necessary in small amounts and as locally as possible, but still evil. Poisen, administered in small doses can kill a cancer, but is still poisen.

The danger of an unnecessary constitutional amendment is partially in precedent and partially in inevitable interpretation, as discussed above.

But more importantly, it is Miers position that the Federal government should have power in criminal matters greater than local government that is dangerous.

12:35 PM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

My spelling lobe is malfunctioning today.

12:46 PM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I think Edmund Burke rejected the argument that he was not for change. Only that change must occur with a broader concensus (that included the traditions of the society, i.e. dead ancestors and not just the current citizen majority).

Nevertheless, following your argument, banning abortion would bring the law back in line with most of history. Until the early 20th century, I think abortion was probably illegal in most places.

In fact abortion was included in the original hippocratic oath (it was taken out of the American version of the oath in the 20th century).

1:04 PM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

A neocon may rationalize sweeping centralized government action as a greater good in the interest of achieving a (hopefully) desirable result, but again, this is violating the spirit and nature of federalism and the 10th Amendment.

The conservative (at least paleocon) solution would be to repeal Roe v. Wade, returning the option of criminalizing abortion to the states.

Before Roe, some states allowed abortion in various circumstances while others did not. An immediate resumption of those policies would not be the case, but the state laboratories would then take over via restrictions to the first trimester in Minnesota, abolition in Utah, and abortion up to the 5th year of life in California.

Following S'aurus logic, Congress should consider a constitutional amendment enforcing a death penalty. Years ago, all or most states had a death penalty, eroded only by states' courts. If we, as conservatives, believe those states' courts are wrong, why not just fix it with another amendment? 3/4 of the states could decide that the 6 or 7 states not willing to go along must do so.

1:41 PM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

We tried that approach with slavery and ended up with war and a 13th Amendment? Thus, the paleocon solution can't always be correct.

Maybe you need a Constitutional Amendment to have a uniform definition of "when life begins."

2:12 PM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

The Civil War was neither civil nor about slavery. It was about a Constitutional crisis. The resolution included a 13th Amendment, but had it not, sentiment was moving toward the abolishment of slavery. My resolution would have been to let them secede.

2:40 PM, October 21, 2005  

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Miers way down on tradesports.

It may be this Texas Lottery stuff (who knows?) but Miers is down 22 cents today at tradesports.com and currently trading at 40 cents (to win a dollar if she if confirmed). Hmm.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I am on record as predicting her withdrawal (see Matter of Time) and stand by it.

10:47 AM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Jonah Goldberg at the Corner is questioning whether a Miers withdrawl would be more damaging for teh conservative movement.

I think not. As a member of the anti-anti-Miers crowd, I would not hold a grudge against the anti-Miers folks. In fact, the whole anti-anti-Miers crowd is anti-anti-Miers for the very reason that they are not the types who go ballistic and hold grudges. The ballistic/grudge types are the anti-Miers group.

If Miers withdraws, as part of the anti-anti-Miers group, I would just shrug it off and get behind the next nominee.

However, if Bush appoints someone worse than Miers (such as Larry Tribe), then I might be pissed at the anti-Miers folk.

11:13 AM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

S'aurus has taken the most convenient position, that of being anti-anti-anti-Miers should she not be confirmed, while being anti-anti-Miers if she withdraws. Because, who's counting antis versus antes?

I know anti-anti-Miers. Miers herself has an Auntie-anti-anti-Miers. And S'aurus, you're no Auntie-anti-Miers.

Are we clear?

11:23 AM, October 21, 2005  

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Our next debate is November 16, again at the Pool and Yacht Club in St. Paul (or Lilydale if you prefer) with the topic

Resolved: Conservatives Should Embrace Empire!

(I am not responsible for the exclamation point. Is Harriet Miers punctuating our resolutions?)

Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard has posted a sobering article, not on the desirability of American Empire, but on its feasibility given the parallels between the pacifism of the British leftist elites following the British victory in WWI and the pacifism of American leftist elites following our victory in WWIII (otherwise known as the Cold War). In both cases, pacifism grew to become anti-patriotism. The parallels, while not perfect, are very troubling.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

There is a distinction between imperialism and protecting one's interests. A patriot could embrace both uses of power, and a pacifist could shun both. But a patriotic pacifist must agree that interests are to be protected, though that line becomes fuzzy in the definition of interests.

10:40 AM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I thought the coumn was an attempt to rephrase the obvious, but in doing so, the column is wrong.

First, the British Empire is still with us in substance, because America carries on the basic same british traditions. In a sense America and Britain are one. Besides, economics and the rise of nationalism in the empire would have reduced the influece of the british empire eventaully.

It wasn't necessarily pacifism that reduced the british empire, it was more specifically the appeasment of Hitler, which resulted in World War II, and the rise of America and the USSR as opposing powers.

I don't think the pacifism in America is anything new. During the war of 1812, the federalists behaved similarly to many of the democrats today. They called the war "Mr. Madison's war." Many jeffersonian-Republicans accused them of treason. And some of the federalists did try to undermine the war both in Congress and even in recruitment. Does this all sound familiar?

Except that years after the war it started to be very unpopular to have opposed the war. This led to the demise of the federalist party.

There was plenty of pacifism in America during WWI and WWII, except we don't hear much about it because the press was for the wars and we were victorious.

Knowing this, it won't be pacifism that will bring down American Empire, it will be just general decay of our society. That is another subject.

12:25 PM, October 21, 2005  

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Barbara Boxer's History

David Gelernter chastises Barbara boxes for being a dimwit in Congressional Hearings yesterday:

Yet up on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been called before a Senate committee. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was one of those who questioned her. Boxer was obnoxious and frightening. She made reference to the Holocaust, offensively. More important, she demonstrated that she doesn't know U.S. history , and she implied that the American people don't either. And she raised an alarming question about contemporary politics. We often hear from Democrats that President Bush's policy in Iraq makes no sense. But how can it make sense to the Barbara Boxers of Congress if they can't understand the explanation?

Gelernter talks about how the goals in all wars change during the war:

The administration, Boxer noted (correctly), has changed focus on Iraq. We went to war mainly on account of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism, she said. But WMD turned out to be a hoax on the whole world, and nowadays we are told that our Iraq mission is gigantic. We plan for a freed Iraq to inspire and stabilize the entire Middle East and to promote democracy everywhere. What kind of bait-and-switch is the administration playing with the American people?Rice answered that this is the way the world works . For example, we did not go into World War II to build a democratic Germany…. Here Boxer interrupted. World War II, she told Rice curtly, has nothing to do with Iraq. Boxer had lost relatives in the Holocaust. No one had to tell her about World War II.But Rice's analogy was exactly fight. And by the way, using the Holocaust as a bat to beat political enemies over the head is demeaning to Jews and to human dignity. Having lost relatives in the Holocaust does not, in any case, confer expertise in U.S. history.

I will have to slightly disagree with Gelernter with this point. The Iraq war is and has always been about WMD. Bush made the argument that we need regime change to make us safer... he said that other free countries will be less likely to produce and want to use WMD on its neighbors or give them to terrorists. Bush reaches this goal because he realizes it will be impossible in the future to keep WMD from being used on the United States - no matter how many bags we search or walls we build. Bush also recognized that Saddam Hussein had the most concentrated power and wealth of any fanatical dictator in the world. If Saddam were around today, his 3 million barrels a day would be grossing his personal bank account more than $50 billion. This is larger than the defense budgets of Britain and France (who both have Nukes) and Saddam only has to pay his solders penuts. Further, we know from Saddam's own lips and past experience that he would be spending a large portion of that on WMD.

I also think that the IRaq war is all about winning the war on terror. As I have argued before on this blog, Iraq was forced on the Terrorists by Bush to be the central battlefield. It is a better battlefield for us than Afghanistan or anywhere else...

Thus, Saddam had to be taken out.

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I hope you don't disagree that Boxer is a dimwit.

10:06 AM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Boxer is a dimwit.

12:12 PM, October 21, 2005  

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Where is Osama?

Could Osama be lying stiff and cold under a collapsed cave in Pakistan? That's impossible to know and unlikely, however this seemed more likely:

In recent weeks, both MI6 and the CIA have established that Bin Laden has received a portable kidney dialysis machine from China but it requires electricity to power it. Drones, unmanned aircraft that US Special Forces launched from Afghanistan last week, have reported that the area along the border has lost all power supplies.

Osama has escaped every other near death experience so far... it would be humorous to see him kick the bucket from an earthquake or dirty kidneys.

Fake But Worth It

This was posted on the Corner:

Ramesh wowed an audience of 300 at Princeton last night with a devastating critique of the lies, falsifications, and distortions contained in the famous Brief of 281 historians submitted in the case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services in a successful effort in 1989 to persuade the Supreme Court not to reverse Roe v. Wade....Also appearing on the evening's program was Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the abortionist and co-founder of NARAL, who gave a chilling account of the lies he and his colleagues told in their effort to legalize abortion in the late 1960s and early 70s. He told the audience about disseminating false polling data, falsifying statistics about illegal abortions and maternal death rates, and engaging in many other appalling acts of dishonesty. "We believed our lies were justified in what we regarded as a good cause," he confessed. The forum was sponsored by Princeton Pro-Life, one of the nation's most savvy and energetic campus pro-life organizations.

This is outrageous. It's more "fake but accurate" from the Left. Again, this kid of stuff has been going on for years. It's the internet blogs and talk radio that has finally provided a check against such blatent fabrication by the Left (who obviously feel no immorality in lying about stuff as long as their goal is achieve).

Lame Plame

The left is salivating over possible indictments in the Plame leak case. Check out this paragraph from an article in the NY Times:

With the term of the grand jury expiring in one week, though, some lawyers in the case said they were persuaded that Mr. Fitzgerald had all but made up his mind to seek indictments. None of the lawyers would speak on the record, citing the prosecutor's requests not to talk about the case.

Apparently the prosecutor doesn't wan't anyone speaking about the case....so no one is speaking on "the record." Should we believe this? Of course the charges being brought are the classic political crimes:

Among the charges that Mr. Fitzgerald is considering are perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement - counts that suggest the prosecutor may believe the evidence presented in a 22-month grand jury inquiry shows that the two White House aides sought to cover up their actions, the lawyers said.

There you have it. Obstruction of Justice, perjury, false statements. What a joke, especially because what Rove and Libby did (providing counter arguments about Joe Wilson) wasn't even close to a crime.

I can't wait to see the indictments.... It will probably be something like this... "Mr. Libby in his first hearing said he only spoke with Judith Miller two times. We have now proven Mr. Libby spoke with Mrs. Miller three times. Therefore, Mr. Libby is obstructing justice, committing perjury and an obvious Felon.

The lesson in all of this should be....... WHY ON EARTH ARE PEOPLE IN THE WHITE HOUSE EVEN SPEAKING WITH THE LIBERAL PRESS! What else would you expect than someone trying to get you in trouble.

The predicted outcome.... One of the two, Rove or Libby gets indicted. That person steps down and people forget about the case. Then the Press complains that no one is talking anymore.

The Plot Thickens for Miers ....

... as the Senate Judciary Committee returns her questionnaire as incomplete; the earlier responses show that her law license has been twice temporarily suspended for the non-payment of bar dues; and Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter claims that the nominee is publicly backtracking from views that were privately expressed to him. Details in the Dallas Morning News and New York Times today.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Maybe the Miers nomination will turn out to be a good thing (assuming it is withdrawn of course).

It seems to have energized the criticism of Bush over spending.

Although I blame congress more for the spending, Bush does have a platform to use to criticise Congress... and he rarely uses it.

9:27 AM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I hear she's also received 3 tardies and a detention for chewing gum.

11:30 AM, October 20, 2005  

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Good Ol' BBC

On my way home from JAS (the resolution failed 8-8), I listened to the BBC. Now we have all heard that the BBC World Report is biased....but to hear it live is another thing. Three things were interesting:

Pretty much the only country ever mentioned by name is the United States. Everything else is "the world community." The BBC talks about the US doing something or the US not doing something or people hating the US. It then interviews all kinds of people hating the US. After listening to all the vitriol, its perfectly understandable why everyone appears to hate the US or has an ax to grind with the US.... it's because the US is really the only one in charge with any ability to do anything for ill or good. All other countries are unmentionable.

Second, there was some reporting on stories that left out Key facts. For example they reported on Tom Delay. They described the story as a key Bush ally being indicted for money laundering. No mention of course about the political motivations behind the case. From the world view standpoint, all that mattered was "a Bush ally being indicted."

There was also reporting on the oil drilling in Alaska. They discussed the case as if the Republicans had found some technicality to slip the oil drilling bill through. They talked about how the area was pristine home to natural landscapes and polar bears and innocent caribau. They failed to mention, however, that the oil drilling amendment had previously been filibustered by a non majority... and that the most recent amendment passed with a majority.

Then they interviewed Danial Akaka from Hawaii (who voted for the bill). He said that he voted for the bill after meeting with the local alaskan eskimos who lived in the area and they all reported to him that they wanted the oil drilling. Akaka called it "self determination." The BBC didn't get it. They chastised Akaka for sacrificing the environment in favor of the wishes of a "local indigineous population." After that I laughed my ass off.

After that a listener emailed the BBC, which was read on the air saying "wouldn't Akaka like it if there was a big fat oil well in his state." The BBC announcers ranted in their approval. I thought... yes, he probably would like some oil drilling in his state.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Deep Decalogue Doo Doo

In an appearance tonight on the News-Hour with Jim Lehrer, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer unwraps the mystery of why Texas’ posting of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the State Capitol did not violate the Establishment Clause, but McCreary County, Kentucky’s posting of the Commandments did. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court decided these cases – with Justice Breyer switching between two groups of 4 justices to make the majorities in each case. As Justice Breyer explains, the method to his madness was simple: Lots of liberals complained about those who posted the display in Kentucky, but not that many liberals attacked the sponsors of the Texas display. Continues Justice Breyer:

In one of the cases, the Ten Commandments monument was being given to a courthouse, put in the courthouse by people who had primarily religious motives. It was tension building. It led to dispute about religion -- religious-related dispute. And I thought given the purposes, that falls on the forbidden side.

The other had been a monument on the Texas state capital for about 40 years with about sixteen, seventeen other monuments that had nothing to do with religion. It was labeled the ideals of Texans. It never disturbed anybody. And I thought, well, if that's forbidden is what I wrote, if that's forbidden, people might go around and try to chip Ten Commandments off of public buildings all over the United States. And that, too, would cause a lot of religious dispute.

So, I thought, well, the one falls on the permitted side, the second. And the first falls on the forbidden side because I refer back looking at the consequences in terms of the basic purpose of the religion clauses.

This venerated principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence was summarized years earlier by my Grandmother as “the squeaky wheel gets the grease....” Or perhaps the Breyer principle should be known by its more modern analogue: “If liberals hate you, well then, you must be bad….”

To my mind, what Justice Breyer describes is mob rule -- or at least the purposeful incitement of the mob -- much more than it is the rule of law. Who you are, or who likes you, or how much folks protest should (if Justice is blind) be beside the point. Also, I don’t recall the Framers attaching either a decibel meter or a weather vane to the Establishment Clause....

Justice Breyer's responses are maddening precisely because we should not have to rely upon his daily readings and measurements to know what the U.S. Constitution means.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

This very evening, in a post-JAS-debate-barside-afterglow, a handful of local bloggers discussed whether it was good for Miers to be of a political persuasion, namely Republican. “She’ll rule with ‘us,’ was the argument for. The question is: What will we be For in 10 years? Might it be the reverse, in nuance, of what we were be For today?

Perhaps, as implicitly promised, she is (regardless of her Constitutional interpretation, if any) “Pro-Life” and votes, in some fashion, to that end in the first year. When the death penalty rears its head in 5 years, does she reverse her “Pro-Life” stance to vote with the Republicans, or does she trend down a path of disregard toward states’ rights?

Lacking a firm foundation in, well, anything whatsoever, a Miers Supreme Court term could be academically interesting and philosophically agonizing.

Rimpi foretells much in dissecting Breyer, as his may be a style to anticipate from Miers. But further, the next justice will likely be selected by a less conservative President than #43, verily I say, rendering a more liberal judge than Breyer or Kennedy, turning the court decidedly left.

Rimpi, we missed your physical presence and wisdom at this evening’s debate, but are comforted to know we may find you here.

1:52 AM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

It could also very well be that a Miers term could be uninspiring, but nevertheless, conservative.

When one examines the term "cruel and unusual" in the context of the constitution, it takes a rocket-scientist to dismiss the fact that the public hanging was common place when the founders inked this term. That's the problem with intellectuals... they look to far beyond the plain meaning of words.

It takes a sinister mind, an intellectual mind, like that of Justice Breyer, to look to foreign law to redefine the term "cruel and unsual," apparently because he is unhappy with American's view of the term.

Being conservative on the Court is actually much easier than being liberal. Conservatives, theoretically, have no ideology, so there is no ideology that needs justifying. I could write a one page opinion on the death penalty. Liberals would write a 100 page opinion.

To anticipate that Miers will become Breyer, one will need to detect a strong ideology. Is there one there?

9:56 AM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Her philosophy is "I Luv George!" Breyer does also seem to lack any hard core philosophy, as opposed to say, Ginsberg or Scalia. I think it is within that mushy mediocrity that we will see Miers. Or, if there is any wisdom yet in the White House, may we not see it.

1:13 PM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

If Breyer lacks a philosophy, or loses the one he had, will he become more of a conservative? Who are the ones with the philosophies. Are they the ones on the left.... on the right...Both?

2:46 PM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Those voting consistently on the left or the right would seem to know their own minds, have a philosophy. It is the Breyers, perhaps the Miers, of the court that find themselves reversing positions, or splitting hairs as Lance Rimpi notes.

3:32 PM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Yes, but should conservatives have a "philosophy?" Isn't having an ideology or a philosophy anti-conservative?

10:05 PM, October 20, 2005  

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The Great "Open Book Test" Is In

Thanks to RedState.Org, Harriet Miers' responses to the Judiciary Committee's questionnaire can be found here -- in a handy html format.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

eInteresting Read. Does it mean anything to the anti-Miers group?

7:58 AM, October 19, 2005  

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Debate October 19

Note the location change to the Pool & Yacht Club, Lilydale.

The John Adams Society

Todd E. Pierce Christopher Phelan Marianne S. Beck Kenneth Ferguson
Chairman Secretary Chief Whip Chancellor

October 19, 2005

There is danger that, if the court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.
-Justice Robert Jackson

THE TRADE-OFF BETWEEN LIBERTY AND SECURITY IS AN OLD ONE. During the Civil War, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, insisting that it made no sense for him to protect this one constitutional right and allow the very Union established by the Constitution to be obliterated. During World War II, thousands of Japanese-Americans were interned in camps in an effort to counter espionage and sabotage. And we complain about taking off our shoes at the airport?

This is war, folks. War calls for sacrifice. It demeans our troops in harm's way to ask them to risk that harm to protect a nation of whiners, complainers, and fanatical ACLU types who would willingly watch our nation go down in flames rather than risk the disapproval of those in their cocktail party set.

ON THE OTHER HAND, if not for the constant vigilance of civil libertarian zealots, what rights would we currently have? At all times, leaders can claim national emergency (and if one doesn't really exist, one can be made to exist.) Our liberties are not a convenience to be given up in wartime like nylons. They are our rights due us as part of our dignity as human beings. They are precisely why we fight.

THE CHAIRMAN, taking a break from calling for the internment of neocons, has called for a debate to settle the question:


The Debate will be held on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 at the Pool & Yacht Club, 1600 Lilydale Road, Lilydale MN. (Click Here for an interactive map to the location.). The Chancellor will preside over drinks beginning at seven o'clock p.m. The debate will begin at half past seven. While there is no dress code for attendance, gentlemen who wish to speak must wear a tie; ladies should adhere to a similar sartorial standard. For those gentlemen who arrive tieless yet wish to speak, fret not: the Purveyor of Ties will keep on hand at least one of his quite remarkable ties for just such an eventuality. Questions about debate caucus procedures or about the John Adams Society itself may be directed to the Chairman at (952) 937-7630 or the Secretary at (612) 204-5615.

Competency is Not a Populist Objective

Lance Rimpi raises some interesting points. Here is my immediate reactions:

1. Competency in government is not a populist objective. Rather, democracy requires public participation and reasonable outcomes for the common good. Even if one person -- perhaps Lance Rimpi -- could assure us that a monarchial system would provide the best outcome, populists would not do it. Populists believe there are many, many people of good will who are qualified to serve in all government posts -- including the Presidency -- and would provide a reasonable outcome for the common good.

2. Education doesn't matter. I would rather be governed by someone is wise than smart. G.K. Chesterton once said, "Democracy is Government by the Uneducated; Aristocracy is Government by the Badly Educated."

3. Populists are not concerned about the Miers' nomination because of points 1 and 2.

As to the politics, Lance Rimpi is probably right. You don't want to look like the stupid President or the stupid political party. So, you need to do smart things. We don't know if the Miers' nomination was a smart or dumb thing for the President to do yet -- that determination will probably depend on if she is confirmed and how she is confirmed.

Blogger festivus said...

Your comments call to mind a fairly famous quote by William F. Buckley that went something like "I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston phone book than the faculty of Harvard University."

I fail to understand why Populists aren't concerned about the nomination of Miers. I agree that there are lots of people with varied background and education who could serve the public good, and serve it well. Miers might indeed be this person. But one could also make this argument if the President nominated another person who was a former ACLU general council, or the guy wearing the bright orange jacket who just rode by on a motorcyle. Either of those might serve the public well, and "Populists would not be concerned", but Conservatives should be. I'd prefer to stack the deck in my favor on such an important post, and I'd feel a whole lot better if there was a paper trail and not so many inconsistencies.

Maybe the President should consider our favorite Populist - SSC himself.

4:16 PM, October 18, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I have to agree somewhat with Festivus. Although we prefer our leaders to be anti-intellectuals, we want them to be competent anti-intellectuals.

No one wants to be led into battle by Intellectuals such as Socrates or John Adams. However, neither do we want to be led into battle by fools such as Randy Moss.

I would much rather prefer a competent anti-intellectual such as William Wallace, or Hannibal, or George Washington.

9:25 PM, October 18, 2005  

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The Smarty Pants Gang

Notwithstanding the caterwauling about the disloyal conservatives who have broken ranks with the President over the Miers nomination, the real trouble will begin when the hearing process frames up a key democratic theme: President Bush is just too stupid to undertake the job of President.

A favorite liberal schema is that conservatives are just too stupid for high office. Panting, the left instructed that Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, Clarence Thomas, were all mindlessly idiotic. And this same drumbeat has been pounded with even greater ferocity as to George W. Bush.

But now the "He's too stupid" caucus has some new, distinguished members. In a recent interview, former U.S. Circuit Judge Robert Bork complained that President Bush does not have particularly profound insights into constitutional law or the discernment to detect these qualities in others; a point as to which David Frum joined on C-SPAN's Washington Journal. "He's not a lawyer, and just doesn't think that way," explained Frum – who is a former Bush aide.

The Miers nomination process glues conservatives in the intellectual cross-hairs and Democrats are eager to show how feeble-minded Miers and her patrons are today. Persecutor-in-Chief, Charles Schummer, emerged from his meetings with Miers yesterday to declare: "On many [questions], she wouldn't give answers. On many others, she deferred, saying 'I need to sort of bone up on this a little more, I need to come to conclusions.'"

Because stupid is as stupid does, this is certain to grow worse.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

It takes especially smart people to think up stuff like Roe vs. Wade or Kelo or deciding that people get to choose which bathroom they should use based on their own view of what sex they are.

8:02 AM, October 18, 2005  

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Monday, October 17, 2005

StarWars Television Series

If you haven't heard, George Lucas is out to conquer the small screen with an upcoming Starwars TV series:

Revenge of the Sith Producer Rick McCallum said that series creator George Lucas has elaborate plans for the interstitial material, which will link old characters with new ones. "He envisions somewhere like 100 hours between Episode III and Episode IV with a lot of characters that we haven't met but have been developed in other novels and other things," McCallum said. "So we're really excited about that because I think finally we can have the opportunity to answer everybody's questions once and for all by the time we finish the series."

The series is scheduled to begin in early 2007.

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

The series starts (in chronological order) with Jar Jar Binks and ends with dancing teddy bears. They lost me at Episode II.

12:37 AM, October 18, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Yes, but Episode III was a partial redemption. There is hope. I guess you could say that Episode II was Lucas's own Harriet Miers.

7:31 AM, October 18, 2005  

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Karl Rove's Garage

Karl's Garage.

It's not often one sees something like this. A personal look into the privileged and powerful. Via Drudge.

Update: Is that the Ark of the Covenant in the box labeled FRAGILE. Where did Rove get that?

Update 2: I found this list to other secret items being held by the Government.

Roman vs. Medieval

This thread compares Roman and Medieval warfare. The general concurrence seems that while the legionaire would be the superior soldier and the Roman army the superior system, medieval missile technology would probably win the day if used correctly.. Here is another thread on the same subject.

However, neither medieval European or Roman would be a match for the Mongols.

Here is a thread on Mongol vs. Roman vs. European.

Quite fascinating...that is if you like this sort of stuff.

Sunnis vs. Shia vs. Kurd

Hitchens writes a great column on how the media is misleading us on the ethnic divisions in Iraq.

The major media types consistently mention how the Sunnis are not happy with the latest referendum poll results and that the results are sure to spur more ethnic violence. The problem with these media assertions is that they never explain what exactly the Sunnis would be fighting for:

Would they be fighting for independence? No. The Sunnis are apparently mad that the Kurds and Shia want to be independent. What they would be fighting for is more oil revenue and I suppose more influence. The problem for the Sunnis is that they only represent 20% of the population and have no oil wealth. The Sunnis would have to rely on covert donations to keep up the fight. Further, they would be facing an ever increasingly more skilled Shia/Kurd army. If they keep fighting they are sure to lose and lose badly. At some point, the Sunnis will realize that they can't be a 13th colony left out of the Union. They must join or be left to poverty.

Update: This column in the Wall Street Journal discusses investment in Iraq.